(20) Michigan 83, Wisconsin 72: Last word

MADISON — Michigan jumped all over Wisconsin early and kept the Badgers at bay the rest of the game in an 83-72 victory Sunday at the Kohl Center.

Player of the Game: Duncan Robinson

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The senior was a big part of Michigan’s quick start, as he scored 14 points in the first half. He was 4 of 5 from beyond the arc as the Wolverines built a 22-point halftime lead. Robinson had just two points after the break but his early efforts made the mountain too big for the Badgers to climb.

The good: The comeback

Wisconsin trailed by as many as 25 points in the second half, but a 12-0 run midway through the period made things much more interesting. The Badgers got the lead all the way down to eight with 2:15 left and were a defensive rebound off a missed free throw from having a chance to whittle the lead down further. That didn’t happen, but seeing fight from a team that is having its worst season in nearly 20 years is encouraging.

The not so good: The start

For the second straight home game, Wisconsin could do nothing right at the outset. Against Northwestern on Feb. 1, the Badgers fell behind 18-1. On Sunday, they fell behind 15-2. With as shorthanded and inexperienced as Wisconsin is, it can’t afford to fall into big holes like that and hope to pull the upset. The lulls in play have been a season-long issue that the Badgers haven’t found a way to avoid.

Stat of the game: 29

That’s how many points Ethan Happ had on Sunday. It’s a season-high and the most he’s scored in a non-overtime game in his career. Because of the big lead, Michigan didn’t double the junior nearly as much as some teams have this year and he took advantage of it.

What they said:

“First off, we gave up too many threes. When they start off seven for nine (from beyond the arc), that opens a lot of other stuff for them. Once we have to go out and defend them deeper at the 3-point line, then that gives up more stuff at the rim, and then drive and kick. We just have to do a better job to start.”

— Happ on the defensive struggles early in the game

In Case You Missed It:

— Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy sat behind the Wisconsin bench. He received a pretty good ovation when he was shown on the video board.

— It was alumni weekend and many former players were honored at halftime, including recent stars such as Josh Gasser, Ben Brust and Zak Showalter. All-time leading scorer Alando Tucker and All-Big Ten center Rashard Griffith were also recognized.

— Wisconsin celebrated the 10-year anniversary of winning the 2008 Big Ten regular season and tournament titles. Players from that team, including Keaton Nankivil, Brian Butch and Greg Stiemsma, were introduced during halftime.

— Junior Andy Van Vliet played just two minutes, but managed to hit a 3-pointer — his first points since Dec. 23.

What’s Next

Wisconsin (11-16, 4-10) hosts Purdue (23-4, 12-2) on Thursday night. The Boilermakers have lost two straight after starting out the Big Ten season 12-0.

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